Ruling Will Be Appealed
By Dick Downey
Stewards that oversaw the running of the 145th Kentucky Derby have issued a 15-day suspension of Luis Saez, who rode Maximum Security to victory only to see him disqualified by those same stewards and placed 17th.
A review of stewards' rulings at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website shows the suspension. It can be viewed here.
Stewards found that Saez failed "to controI his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resuIted in the disqualification of his mount," citing 810 KAR 1:016 (12) and (13), sections of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations.
Last week, it was revealed Saez had hired Ann Oldfather, a Louisville attorney. Oldfather attended the stewards' video review of the matter last Friday but was not permitted to speak about the issue. She tendered a video that shows War of Will literally kicking Maximum Security from behind before he veered out. The video suggests that this is why Maximum Security failed to stay in his path, which underlies the penalty meted out to Saez.
At this post, stewards have taken no action against Tyler Gaffalione, who rode War of Will. It's unclear whether the stewards reviewed the actions of any other jockeys in the Kentucky Derby, or just those of Saez.
Barbara Borden is the chief steward, and the others are Butch Becraft and Tyler Pickleseimer. Borden and Becraft are employed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Pickleseimer is employed by Churchill Downs. Their ruling was unanimous.
Bill Mott, trainer of Country House, said in the Churchill Downs Media Center after the Derby was over,, "I don't think Luis Saez did anything intentionally. I think his horse was green. He could have been shying from the inside.... I can't answer why he did it, but it looked like he came off his inside lead at the 5/16 pole."
If stewards agree with Mott's statement, then the basis for the ruling would have to be careless riding. The ruling states that Saez committed a "failure to control his mount."
There will be an appeal of this ruling by Saez.
"Luis does intend to appeal this unsupported suspension,” said Sean Deskins, an attorney in Oldfather’s law firm, to Daily Racing Form's Byron King. “It’s very egregious.”
Typically, an appeal is filed with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and a hearing officer is appointed to hear the case and make recommendations. After the Commission rules, an aggrieved party has the option of filing an appeal in court. Franklin Circuit Court, which is situated in Frankfort, the state capital, is the venue for such appeals.